NLRB finds Activision Blizzard illegally withheld raises from unionising workers

Former NLRB chairman Wilma Liebman described the findings as “a very preliminary win for the union"

Activision Blizzard illegally retaliated against unionising workers at Raven Software by withholding raises, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found.

Via The Washington Post, the labour board found that Activision Blizzard withheld raises from quality assurance (QA) testers at Raven Software, which it attributed to their union activities.

Following these findings, Activision Blizzard and Raven Software QA testers will continue negotiations around a collective bargaining agreement. If the two parties cannot agree on terms, the NLRB could file a complaint. Additionally, if Activision Blizzard refuses to settle, the case could be seen by a federal judge – although this is an unlikely scenario.

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Former NLRB chairman Wilma Liebman described the findings as “a very preliminary win for the union,” arguing that it gave them “a little bit of leverage.”

“It’s part of their tactics,” said Liebman, “hit them wherever they can, to put pressure on the company in order to reach an agreement with them and to stop violating the law.”

Activision Blizzard Orc Statue
Credit: Activision Blizzard

In response, Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George issued the following statement:

“Due to legal obligations under the [National Labor Relations Act] requiring employers not to grant wage increases while an election was pending, we could not institute new pay initiatives at Raven because they would be brand new kinds of compensation changes, which had not been planned beforehand. This rule that employers should not grant these kinds of wage increases has been the law for many years.”

In a June complaint, the NLRB claimed that Activision Blizzard retaliated against current and former QA testers for their union activities in a number of ways. This included 12 layoffs, reorganizing the company to remove the QA department, withholding benefits and soliciting grievances.

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The union at Raven Software dates back to January of this year, having formed after a number of its quality assurance team were laid off without warning. While Xbox head Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft will not oppose the union following its high-profile acquisition of the company, Activision Blizzard has been accused of anti-union activities in the past.

In other gaming news, EA is teasing an imminent Need for Speed reveal.

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